. . . and some other poets

And here are some poems by a few other poets…

Drunken Villagers


the guest is drunk
and the host, and the boy
and they sing, and they dance, and they laugh
who cares if you’re thirty or fifty or eighty
you bow politely, and he bows, and l
no boisterous strings or mad flutes here to rush us
we drink with the rolling red sun
till he falls in the West
and pound time on our plates and our saucers and bowls
till they break.

J.P. Seaton

Gazing Afar at Wuzhen Temple

Zhang Ji

Towering above, and facing
                       the gateway of my inn,
The Peak for Gathering Jade links up
                       with hidden Buddhist shrine.
To no purpose, coming, going,
                       riding official horses!
< Not allowed a single inch
                       of travel that is mine.

Jonathan Chaves


Written When Drunk

Chang Yueh

Once drunk, my delight knows no limits,
so much better than before I’m drunk.
My movements are all shaped like dances,
and everything I say comes out a poem!

Burton Watson

After Finishing a Poem

Chia Tao

Those two lines cost me three years:
I chant them once, and get two more, of tears.
Friend, if you don’t like them…
I’ll go home, and lie down,
in the ancient mountain autumn.

J.P. Seaton


Choa tao

At the bottom of the ocean: the  moon,
bright moon, round as the wheel of the sky.
Just get a single hand full of this glory…
>and you could buy a thousand miles of Spring.

J.P. Seaton

Inscribed on the Wall of the Hut by the Lake

Chiao Jan

If you want to be a mountain dweller…
no need to trek to India to find a mountain…
I’ve got a thousand peaks
to pick from, right here in this lake.
Fragrant grasses, white clouds,
to hold me here.
What holds you there,

J.P. Seaton

An Early Plum Flower

Ch’i Chi

Thousands of trees near breaking under ice;
warmth returns only to this lonely root.
Deep snow by the next village.
One branch bloomed last night.
Wind carries the hidden fragrance off,
and birds peep at its plain white beauty.
If the seasons behave next year,
we’ll see the first flowers at Spring Platform.

       Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping

The Master of Hsiang Plays His Lute

Ch’ien Ch’i

So well he plays his cloud topped lute,
We hear the Lady of the River.
The god of the stream is moved to dance in emptiness.
The traveler of Ch’u can’t bear to listen.
A bitter tune, to chill both gold and stone.
Pure notes pierce gloomy dark.
Deep green Wu-t’ung brings sad thoughts on.
White iris there, recalls a certain fragrance.
The waters flow, between Hsiang’s banks.
Mournful winds cross Like Tung-t’ing.
Song done, and no one to be seen.
On the river, many peaks, all green

J.P. Seaton


Outside the Dust

Chu Chi-Fang

It doesn’t get here.
Mountain colors walk in my sandals.
Riding inspiration
I chant a long line;
Turn my head

And already forget.

Paul Hansen

Crane on a Pine Crying to Heaven

Sung Po-jen

waking from a Red Cliff dream
black robe soaked with rain
trying to reach Heaven’s ear
it stands atop a pine

Red Pine


To the Tune “As Though Dreaming”

Ch’in Kuan

Beyond the gate
a raven calls from the willows

Spring’s colors
warm everyone
like wine

She gets up alone
snuffs the incense

Frail wrists
that can scarcely lift
the big old serving dish

she’s getting thin
getting thin

and once again the season
dismantling all its flowers

David Young and William McNaughton

Staying at an Inn

Du Mu

Staying at the inn alone, no friends,
no one to share my mournful thoughts.
Under a cold lamp, I think about my life;
the cries of a lost goose wake me from sad sleep.
In my dream, I traveled far, almost home by dawn;
when my family sends letters, they take a year to Find me.
Outside on the darkened river, the moon in mist,
still tethered by the gate, a fisherman’s boat.

Geoffrey  Waters

Given in Parting (2)

Du Mu

Too much emotion is like none at all,
as I wait with my wine for the smile that will not come.
Candles have hearts, are sad for us at partings;
their tears, instead of mine, drip till the sky brightens.

Geoffrey  Waters

The Garden of the Golden Valley

Du Mu

All the extravagance of those days has vanished with the fragrant dust;
the river Hows by without caring now, the gardens gone to seed.
At dusk, an east wind carries the sad sounds of birds;
as flowers fall, so from this tower she fell for love..

Geoffrey  Waters

Frontier Song

Hsiang Yu

Power roots up hills
breath covers the world
Time without profit
horse without running
what will you do?


Eric Sackheim

Sending Off Ssz Tuan
To Return East

The Monk Tsu Yun

In distant thoughts
Springs and rock take life:
You are shutting down
Business among people.
Packing clothes
While trees in town
Drop leaves, you seek temples
In the far coastal range:
Sail’s reflection
Confuses freezing geese; chant
of sutras drowns
Dusk tide.
We even plan
Another visit, frosts
Will nip
My hair.

Paul Hansen

Cloud Gate Temple: Painting Plum Trees

Hsu Wei

floating bridge
water flowing
the snow
as I wander
late in March
the buds
now green
in trees
with coldness
but the only plum blossoms
to be seen
are in my painting

James Cryer

Seeking a Hermit but Not Finding Him

Jia Dao

Beneath the pines, I asked his servant boy-
“The Master is gone, out picking medicinal herbs.
He’s somewhere in these mountains,
deep in the clouds, but I couldn’t say where.”

David Lunde

Spring-Gazing Song

Hsueh Tao

Blossoms crowd the branches, too beautiful to endure.
Thinking of you, I break into bloom again.
One morning soon, my tears will mist the mirror.
I see the future and I will not see.

Carolyn Kizer


Wang Fan-chih

Others go astride great chargers;
me, on my ass.
Then there’s the guy under a load of firewood.
I compare me to both.

J.P. Seaton


Wang Fan-chih

Wang Fan-chih wears his socks inside out,
everybody knows that’s all wrong
But he’d rather poke you in the eye
than  keep his feet in the dark.

J.P. Seaton

Spring-Gazing Song, II

Hsue Tao

We cannot glow as one when petals open;
We cannot grieve as one when petals fall.
Dare I ask where we may meet in mutual love?
A secret time of opening and closing:
Blossoms that separately bloom and die as one.

Carolyn Kizer

Leaving it to You

Kuan Hsiu

Self evident, truth mistakes no thing.<
But my heart’s a long way from there
and no thing’s clear to me.
Yellow gold is almost all burned up
by my desire:
white hair grows beside the fire.
Bitter indecision, choose This, or maybe That:
even spirit speaks in riddles,
and it makes it hard to harvest
the essence of a single day.
Catch the wind, while you tether the shadows.
Faith, or a man who’ll stand by his word, is all
there is, there is no disputing.

J.P. Seaton

Written in the Mountains

Kuan Hsiu

A mountain’s a palace
for all things crystalline and pure:
there’s not a speck of dust
on a single one of all these flowers.

When we start chanting poems like madmen
it sets all the peaks to dancing.
And once we’ve put the brush to work
even the sky becomes mere ornament.
For you and me the joy’s in the doing
and I’m damned if I care about “talent”.

But if, my friend, from time to time
you hear sounds like ghostly laughter…
It’s all the great mad poets. dead,
and just dropping in for a listen.

J.P. Seaton

Waking up Sober

Li Chung

I wake under flowering trees
in the sweetness of spring grass
to see the moon already up
from the garden’s east wall.

The winecups? The dishes?
And all our wild games!
Where has everyone gone?

We come together
We drift apart-
Why so surprised
if it seems to have happened
in a dream?

Maureen Robertson

On the lake the wind brings waves

Li Ch’ing-chao

On the lake the wind brings waves
from some watery reach.
Autumn is old, red blossoms few, fragrances slight.
The water is bright with the mountain’s image.
Our intimacies, ceaseless talk, endless love.
Lotus seeds are ripe, leaves withered.
Bright dew bathes the duckweed flowers, the beach grass,
and gulls and egrets asleep on the sand
won’t watch, as if they mourn
your early leaving.

J.P. Seaton

Crossing the Han River

Li Pin

Beyond those southern peaks, no news or letters;
I was gone a winter and again a spring down there
Now nearing home, I grow a little nervous,
afraid to question people I meet along the way.

Geoffrey Waters

To the Tune of “Gathering Mulberries”

Li Yu

Spring’s driven from the arbor as the last red flowers
linger in a dance
dancing with a drizzle.
Why do my tight brows not let go?
My window’s green and cold: your voice comes in pieces.
Incense leaves its seal of ash.
Persistent passion
invades, with the moon’s rising shadow, my sleep.

Susan Dolling

The Divide

Lin Ho-Ching

I confess I get moony
when I see these
out of the way places.
Parked for a minute
I look down at
the clapboard houses.
Foot of the hill
I drink spring water
so cold my back teeth ache.
God! Childhood!
how soon I forgot it!

Kenneth O, Hanson


Lin Ho-Ching

Surrounded by
anything growing
I stop and think.
The crane stands
on one leg among
lilies. The bees go
bumbling in and out
of the flowers.
Wine slows me down.
I poke and prod
at the roots of things
and remember
too late how fond
the painters were
of the stairs that lead nowhere

Kenneth O, Hanson

Searching for the Taoist Monk Ch’ang at South Creek

Liu Ch’ang-ch’ing (709-785?)

His way, crossed by many lesser paths,
the moss; by sandal tracks.
White clouds lean, at rest on the silent island.
Fragrant grasses bar the idle gate.
Rain past, look: see clear, the color of the pines.
Out along the mountain, to the source,
flowers in the stream reveal Ch’an’s meaning.
Face to face, and all words gone.

J.P. Seaton

River Snow

Liu Zhongyuan

Endless mountains, no birds fly;
no footprint traces on a thousand paths.
One boat, an old man in rush cape and bamboo hat,
alone, fishing, in cold river snow.

Michael Farman

At the Frontier (2)

Lu Lun

The forest is dark, grass rustles in the breeze;
the general, in the night, stretches his how.
The next morning, they find the white feathered arrow,
sunk in the cleft of a stone.

Geoffrey Waters

Palace Lament

Wang Ch’ang-ling

Young wife in her chamber, so innocent of grief.
Spring morn adorned, she climbs blue tower.
Where sudden she sees, along the lane, the willow’s colors,
and sorrows, now, she sent him off, in search of honors.

J.P. Seaton


Night Journey to the Eastern Brook

Wang Chi

rock-strewn moss offers a foothold
tangled branches lend a gentle hand
the slate-green river points the way back.
drifting with the moon, I sing my way home.

Jim Sanford

Written on the Tavern Wall

Wang Chi

last night’s pitcher soon ran dry
this morning’s jug is already open.
in dreams seeking the end of dreams;
look out-here comes the drunk again.

Jim Sanford

Reversible Verse

(Readable left to right from top to bottom ,
and right to left from bottom to top)

Wang An-Shih

moon pops out . . .
riverfish scared
leap up

clouds split
and startle
hills full
of birds

paths steep
in weeds
growing wild

steps ruined
among charming
blossoms teeming

Jan Walls

The West River at Ch’u-chou

Wei Ying-wu

Alone, for love of hidden herbs, which flourish by the stream.
Above, the yellow oriole sings deep among the trees.
Spring’s flood tides, and rain, together, to this evening come.
No man at the ferry:  boat drifts there, on its own.

J.P. Seaton

Echoing Mountain Recluse Ho Ching’s Poem On Hai-T’ang Blossoms

Wen T’ung

Because I love the fragrant buds
       glowing red against the earth,
leaning on the railing all day long
I face the perfumed grove.
Late at night I suddenly recall
a fine branch way up high–
I take a winecup and come again
to see it in the moonlight.

Jonathan Chaves

Irritated by the Insects

Wen T’ung

The moon comes out, the pine bank brightens
dew descends, the lotus pond freshens.
This evening, such beautiful landscape!
Alone I wander through the woods.
But you hlmdred insects, what are you up to?
Buzzing, buzzing, such autumnal noise!
I came to find peace and cannot find it-
how will I ever end my poem?

Jonathan Chaves

West Lake

Yuan Hung-Tao

One day I walk by the lake.
One day I sit by the lake.
One day I stand by the lake.
One day I lie by the lake.

Jonathan Chaves

Things Seen on Spring Days

Yuan Hung-Tao

Spring’s second month,
    the lovely peach trees
        bloom and block the path;
with a cane of bamboo wood
    l come through, treading moss.
Walking mountains, most I love
    the sudden gusts of wind:
flower petals strike my face
    like drops of falling rain.

Jonathan Chaves

Night Song

Wen Yi-Duo

A shuddering toad breathes deeply.
A woman climbs from a pile of yellow soil.
Beside her lies no shadow.
Though the color of the moon is very clear.
A woman climbs from a pile of yellow soil.
Upon the soil there is no fissure.
She didn’t startle an earthworm
nor pull apart one thread of a spider’s web.
Beneath the moonlight a woman sits.
Her face looks young as springtime
but her scarlet gown’s hideous as blood.
Tangled hair dangles down her back.
A woman begins to wail and beat her chest.
But the toad only shivers coldly.
In a distant village a cock cries like a child.
A woman disappears upon the yellow soil.

Robert Dorsett


Song in Sixteen Words

Wu Tsao

Standing in west wind, green sleeves thin.
Slanting sun sets,
Flower shadows climb the railing.

Kathy Silber

On a Picture of Self With Hoe, Cultivating

Wu Tsao

Plum Blossoms in Moonlight
Unmarred blue,
Redolent hands,
Trowel and hoe.
Snowflakes shake from the sky,
A trail of cold smoke, shattered.
Splintered shadows of crosswise branches
Patch onto cracks in the railing.
There’s a poem in the picture,
A picture in the poem,
Though she doesn’t rank immortal.
On a fine Chiangnan night of blossoms and moon,
In fly blue kingfisher feathers,
Wailing .

Kathy Silber

Poem in Response to Commissioner Wu

Xue Tao

Monk Zhi’s vanished, flowery hermitage
could be next door to yours.

You own the hills around,
but haven’t roamed them yet.

In through the gate:
a stream of clouds
from Bright Creek fill your yard.
lt’s just a step or two
from your lofty hideaway,
up to deep empty blue.

Jeanne Larsen

Seeing Off a Friend Who ls Returning to the North After the Rebellion

Sikong Shu

As the war broke out,
we went South together.
Now at peace,
you return to the North alone.
My hair will turn gray
in this alien land;
you will see the blue mountains
near your home.
By the waning moon at dawn,
you will pass the ruined ramparts.
Under the starry sky,
you will sleep at the familiar pass.
The shivering birds
and the withering grass
will follow my dispirited face
everywhere I go .

Edward Chang



The Shih Ching , usually translated as either The Book of Songs or the Classic of Poetry, is the first great collection of Chinese poetry. Tradition says that it was edited into its present form by the Sage of Sages, Confucius himself. In fact the book was assembled before, during, and after the life of Confucius. Its more than three hundred poems include fragments of works as old as the Shang Dynasty (traditional; dates 1766-1154 BCE) as well as “contemporary” poems from the Chou feudal states written or spoken by both aristocratic court figures and just plain “folks”. A great deal has been said about the origin of many, if not the majority of the poems as oral “folk” art, but it is clear from the artistry of the written language in which they have been handed down that, like the scribes who improved upon the originally oral poetry attributed to “Homer” in the West to create the Iliad and the Odyssey, the people who converted Chou folk songs and court verses into poetry in written Chinese characters clearly thought of themselves as (and were) artists. So the characters used to render simple and direct lyrical utterances of the illiterate peasant folk often honor them with carefully chosen written vocabulary: the heart and soul of folk art remains clearly present, but literary subtleties are introduced. The scribes who created the Shih Ching were poets, not tape recorders. They chose the best of what existed, and they honored it with their own art.

In its present form, the Shih Ching consists of three major sections, the Kuo Feng, or Odes of the States, comprising 160 of the 300 are generally but not always folk songs. The Ya (Elegant Verses) subdivided with no obvious criteria into greater and lesser, include poems 161-265, and the Sung or Temple Odes high ritual songs and bits of dynastic myth, include poems 266-305. The present selection is comes, all but a single longer poem on drinking and its positive and negative consequences from the “Lesser Elegants”, all come from the Kuo Feng Sections.

Knowledge of the Shih Ching poems was a necessity of diplomatic practice around the time of Confucius, when it was a common practice to deliver or at least support the delivery of diplomatic messages among the feudal domains (the “States or Guo of the Guo Feng) by oral presentation of relevant lines from the Classic. From the Han on many of the poems where imbued with very specific allegorical interpretations, but it is clear that later poets, who memorized the book word for word, used it as allusive material in their own poems at least as often for its plain “folk” messages as for its orthodoxly approved allegorical ones.